Personnel: Billie Holiday (vocals); Willie Smith (alto saxophone); Paul Quinichette, Coleman Hawkins, Al Cohn (tenor saxophone); Charlie Shavers, Joe Newman, Roy Eldridge, Buck Clayton, Harry "Sweets" Edison (trumpet); Tony Scott (clarinet); Wynton Kelly, Oscar Peterson, Carl Drinkard, Mal Waldron, Bobby Tucker (piano); Kenny Burrell, Freddie Green, Herb Ellis, Barney Kessel (guitar); Aaron Bell, Ray Brown, Carson Smith, Milt Hinton, Red Callender (bass); Lenny McBrowne, Gus Johnson, Chico Hamilton, Ed Shaughnessy, Don Lamond (drums).
Producers: Norman Granz, Leonard Feather.
Compilation producer: Richard Seidel.
Recorded between July 1952 and September 1958. Includes liner notes by Gary Giddins and Richard Seidel.
Digitally remastered by Dennis Drake (Polygram Studios).
Personnel: Billie Holiday (vocals); Freddie Green, Herb Ellis, Kenny Burrell, Barney Kessel (guitar); Tony Scott (clarinet); Willie Smith (alto saxophone); Coleman Hawkins, Al Cohn, Paul Quinichette (tenor saxophone); Harry "Sweets" Edison , Joe Newman , Roy Eldridge, Buck Clayton, Charlie Shavers (trumpet); Carl Drinkard, Mal Waldron, Oscar Peterson, Wynton Kelly, Bobby Tucker (piano); Chico Hamilton, Lenny McBrowne, Don Lamond, Gus Johnson , Ed Shaughnessy (drums).
Audio Remasterer: Dennis Drake.
Liner Note Authors: Gary Giddins; Richard Seidel.
Recording information: Carnegie Hall, New York, NY (07/27/1952-09/26/1958); Los Angeles, CA (07/27/1952-09/26/1958); Wallingford, CT (07/27/1952-09/26/1958).
This compilation includes some of the best-known songs from Billie Holiday's repertoire, originals and standards recorded during the final decade of her career. This terribly painful and difficult period of Holiday's personal life yielded some of the most poignant and soulful jazz recordings ever. A number of them, rendered in the frayed and weary voice of the mature chanteuse, are included on the SONGBOOK.
While up-tempo songs like "What a Little Moonlight Can Do" suffer from Holiday's lack of energy (contrasted by Oscar Peterson's vivid piano work), "Don't Explain," arguably her best original, is darkly brooding, rich and compelling. Holiday's voice in this late period has lost its shine and the sense of hope that infused its early incarnation. But her incomparable sense of time and phrasing is intact and alive, and the all-star ensembles gracefully shadow Holiday's dreamy singing.